I can't seem to pass a skip without peering inside in the hope of finding some raw material that could just come in handy for a cheap project one of these days. My most recent discovery was spotted outside a gents outfitters which was undergoing a refurb. When I spotted some smashed-up shelving units made from clear yellow pine with no knots my heart skipped a beat because this material is a far cry from the quick-grown, knot-infested rubbish sold these days under the name of softwood.
For the cost of a drink surreptitiously slipped to the young foreman, this trove was mine. It speedily found its way into the back of my estate car.
As I had been asked some time back to make a small pine shelf unit and had been putting the job off, the prospect of making it for next to nothing spurred me into action. The project was not entirely plain sailing however…
First some drilling
With the sides cut to size, the first job is to drill the holes for the height-adjustable shelves. To ensure perfectly spaced holes on both components I used my Veritas drilling jig which comes with a range of guidebushes to suit
different-diameter drills. Use a piece of tape on the drill bit to act as a depth stop, and take care not to drill right through the side – not that I would ever make such a basic mistake, but more about that later! The Veritas jig allows you to produce both rows of holes at one setting, and then match them perfectly on the other piece with a single measurement (see photo 3).
Even old and dry timber can leave a fluffy surface straight off the planer, so it is easier to sand it thoroughly at this stage, before assembly, giving it a going over with a random orbit sander.
The strength of modern glues means that reliance on traditional woodworking joints is becoming less important, and in fact you can often screw pieces together with just a thin smear of glue on each and still end up with a rock-solid joint. However, this inevitably leaves screw holes. The most successful way to disguise these is to use a wooden plug cut from matching material.
Living & learning
Despite my comedy of errors – probably a case of more haste less speed – I was pleased with this unit. The trouble is, as my workshop becomes more mechanised I find that not only are my mistakes more dramatic, they also happen a lot faster too! You never stop learning…